core infrastructure and support
Our mission is to create a robust physical, technical, and administrative infrastructure to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of the core components of the Global Health Collaborative.
Core infrastructure and support, as defined in this document, represents the many components and people necessary to create and support our Collaborative in research and innovation, and, professional development, education and clinical care. The scope of this work includes, but is not limited to, buildings and grounds, safety and security, the financial oversight of grants and contracts, human resource management of local and expat staff, leasing and operating a guesthouse, visitor logistics, and long-term relationship management. This work is overseen by members of the MGH GH and the MUST Grants Office. Like the overall partnership, core activities began with research in 2003. As the program activities have increased so has the need for more formal systems, standardized policies, increased space, and collaborative problem solving. Summarized below are three examples of core activities that have grown significantly in the past few years; the MUST Grants Office (MGO), Institutional Review Board (IRB) expertise, and the security and logistics program.
Grant and Contract Management
The MGO opened in 2011, with three people managing eight research studies. Today the office employs 12 people and manages 29 studies from the Collaborative and other institutions. Their annual budget has grown from $858,000 to over $2.4M representing studies from: Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Ghent, Clarkson University, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, Makerere University, University of Atwapen, Harvard Medical School, Vanderbilt University, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Grand Challenges Canada, University of California San Francisco, Indiana University, and University of British Columbia.
The MGO staff manages MUST grants and complicated international sub-contracts funded by the National Institutes of Health, international foundations and other granting agencies. To respond to this rapid growth, staff from MGH Global Health worked with the MGO to implement a new accounting system, develop standard operating procedures, and redesign office work flow. The two offices communicate regularly and MGH Global Health staff spend time in Mbarara to provide on-going trainings and support.
Institutional Review Board Expertise
The Institutional Review Board (IRB) approves, monitors, and reviews biomedical and behavioral research involving humans to protect study subjects from physical or psychological harm. Uganda and the US have different guidelines and requirements. This requires continuous communication between the research teams and the IRB coordinators. Since 2005, MGH and MUST have diligently worked together to ensure that all research projects meet both US and Ugandan guidelines. Ugandan and MGH/ MGH Global Health IRB experts provide on-going IRB- and research ethics trainings to the MUST research community.
Security and Logistics
A vital core infrastructure activity is the development of a robust security and logistics program to serve our international visitors (over 300 in 2014) and full-time MGH employees based in Mbarara. The new integrated TravelSafe Program collects emergency contact and insurance information that can be quickly retrieved by authorized MGH personnel in cases of medical emergency. In addition the traveler automatically receives security warnings in via phone and/or email. Our security and logistics team have developed pre-departure seminars, packets containing an emergency contact sheet, tips on safe travel, a general risk overview, and protocols addressing accidents, travel, and medical evacuation. A pre-programmed cell phone is provided to each traveler prior to arrival in Uganda.
Visitors staff at the MGH Guesthouse which employees a 24-hour guard service, and conforms to other security measures standard to the community. In addition MGH Expat staff resides in a safe, guarded compound, have regular meetings to address safety and security concerns, develop best practices, and participate in trainings in first aid, self-defense, and roadside assistance.